So I agree about the badge, although I'll still argue that it's more about the promotion of the SSL Provider than it is anything to do with security.
"free AV are basic and limited" I guess is my real digging point. I can't find anything that says they're limited or untrusted in any specific way.
So avoiding the following, SSLs (free or paid) use the same security/encryption;
- SSL Badge from SSL Provider
- Extended Validation (EV SSL - Green Bar)
- Guarantee Insurance ($10k-$1.5M
- Registration Length (1-2 years)
- Installation Support (web hosts provide this too)
- Wildcard SSL Ability
So did I miss anything?